Dr. Alex Joffe

Dr. Alex Joffe

Dr. Alex Joffe

Alex Joffe (Ph.D. University of Arizona). Specializes in ancient and modern Middle Eastern studies, American foreign policy, and American cultural politics.

Democrats, Experts, and Peace Plans

| February 4, 2020

The Trump “Deal of the Century” has elicited responses ranging from enthusiastic support to bitter rejection. Among those rejecting the plan are US Democratic candidates for president. Their instant and total rejection reflects an instinctive antipathy toward Trump but also an addiction to expert-driven processes that have failed for decades. The blanket rejection reflects non-zero sum conceptions in which there can be no winners or losers in the conflict, and reveals an instrumental view of Palestinians as stalking horses for other causes. But reality is creeping in and starting to change attitudes.

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The Soleimani Killing: An Initial Assessment

The targeted killing by the US of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force and close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has unsettled the region and the world. We have assembled initial takes on this event by five BESA researchers: Prof. Hillel Frisch, Prof. Eytan Gilboa, Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Dr. Doron Itzchakov, and Alex Joffe. 

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Implications of the British Election for Jews and Israel

| December 20, 2019

The British election returned a resounding mandate to the Conservative Party and decimated the antisemitism-wracked Labour Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was exposed as unlikeable and incompetent, and as the facilitator of a massive upswing in antisemitism within the party—all of which was rejected by voters. The lesson for the US Democratic Party is that punitive leftism and overt antisemitism are unacceptable, though divisions within the American Jewish community mute that message. For Israel, the lesson is to try to remain as bipartisan as possible, though that won’t be easy.

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Trump and the “Settlements”: A Preliminary Analysis

| November 22, 2019

The Trump administration’s decision to repudiate an earlier approach that regarded Israeli communities across the “Green Line” as illegal has been praised and condemned. While there may be merit to seeing the move as an effort to help PM Benjamin Netanyahu or at least break Israel’s electoral logjam, there are deeper motives at play. Trump and his administration have made a hallmark of defying dysfunctional conventional wisdom and foreign policy inertia that elevate process over results. But while the predicted calamities of this policy have not materialized, the administration’s lack of any Grand Strategy makes the benefits difficult to aggregate.

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Clarity Amidst Chaos: The Implications of Trump’s Syria Policy

| October 27, 2019

The American withdrawal from Syria has produced chaotic results – but as with many aspects of President Trump’s presidency, it offers an opportunity to view realities with a new clarity. The nature of Turkey under Erdoğan, European weakness, and the unwillingness of America to support indecisive military missions have been revealed. These realities demand new approaches to European defense and to Middle Eastern engagement and disengagement.

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BDS, Antisemitism, and Class

| October 15, 2019

Contemporary antisemitism has the ability to graft itself onto a variety of causes and movements. But the social and information environment in the US and Europe is strongly conditioned by virtue-signaling among elites and increasingly among portions of the middle class. Antisemitism, in part through BDS-fueled antipathy toward Israel, is becoming a signal of middle class respectability. At the same time, though left-wing Western elites remain strongly anti-national, the working classes and other parts of the middle class are becoming renationalized. These and other class conflicts will shape antisemitism in the next decades.

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The Tlaib-Omar Trainwreck: A First Assessment

| August 16, 2019

The Israeli decision to ban US Representatives Tlaib and Omar on the basis of their support for BDS has elicited a firestorm of comments from Israel’s detractors and supporters. The decision, warranted but unnecessary, illustrates the deep dysfunction that has come to characterize US-Israeli relations. The poisoning of American attitudes initiated by President Obama and the hysteria that accompanies everything associated with President Trump (and Prime Minister Netanyahu) set the stage for Tlaib and Omar to create a lose-lose situation for Israel. Their trip would have resulted in condemnations at the end, or worse. But the manner in which Israeli public diplomacy failed to make its case shows bad situational awareness and crisis management that was unable to overcome the Congresswomen’s bad faith or Trump’s unwanted intervention.

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The UN Agency for Palestinians Is Even Worse Than You Think It Is

and | August 11, 2019

A corruption scandal involving sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation against whistleblowers, and lots of business-class travel has gripped the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). It represents a new low for UNRWA and is an indictment of the idea of an international agency dedicated to a single interest. But it’s also a unique opportunity to see behind the curtain of a billion-dollar UN bureaucracy and phase it out.

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The Social Geography of the BDS Movement and Antisemitism

| August 8, 2019

An original analysis of the global distribution of BDS Internet searches revealed disproportionate interest in countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, and Sweden, as well as in coastal US states with large academic institutions. In the former regions there are few Jews and little contact with Israel, while in the latter, there are many Jews but proportionately fewer Christian supporters of Israel. A simple explanation for these patterns is that BDS interest correlates with post-Christian contexts in which Jews are relatively absent, or with “white” class anxiety emanating from academia. In the US, growing negativity about Israel in liberal Western communities is likely a class-based transfer of anxiety regarding ”white privilege” onto Israel and Jews.

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A Memo to Jared

A recent report indicates that President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner suggested that then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other policy makers read a January 2018 Wall Street Journal piece regarding the cutoff of American funding for UNRWA, the international agency for Palestinian ‘refugees.’ As authors of the piece referenced in the leak, we are flattered. With the administration’s much discussed peace plan to be announced in June, let us offer some last minute suggestions.

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